NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2023
What’s in store this offseason for some Flyers veterans? Could the Canadiens target free agents Alex Killorn or Damon Severson this summer? Does Kevin Labanc have a future in San Jose? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
WHAT’S IN STORE THIS SUMMER FOR THE FLYERS’ HAYES, DEANGELO AND KONECNY?
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Olivia Reiner reports Flyers general manager Daniel Briere believes Kevin Hayes still has a lot of value as a productive 6-foot-5 center. While he thinks plenty of teams would be interested in the soon-to-be 31-year-old Hayes, Briere suggested it was too early to jump to conclusions over his future.
The Flyers GM acknowledged defenseman Tony DeAngelo had an up-and-down year that ended with him being a healthy scratch at the end of the season. He declined to go into the reasons behind DeAngelo’s benching but added this offseason will be a big one for the blueliner as he works his way back into the good graces of head coach John Tortorella.
Briere felt winger Travis Konecny will be an important part of the roster going forward. The 26-year-old winger has two years left on his contract. Briere was impressed with how he took over as a team leader from departed veterans like Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Briere seems to be kind of lowering expectations a bit with his comments about moving Hayes. I think he will try to move Hayes this summer if he can get an acceptable offer, preferably one where he’s not having to retain any part of his $7.14 million average annual value. However, finding such an offer won’t be easy, especially if the salary cap only rises by $1 million for next season.
DeAngelo only has a year remaining on his contract. An improved performance next season could boost the Flyers but also bolster his value in next season’s trade market as a playoff rental.
Konecny occasionally surfaced in the rumor mill this season. He thrived under Tortorella’s coaching this season so I doubt we’ll see him moved this summer.
COULD THE CANADIENS PURSUE KILLORN OR SEVERSON?
TVA SPORTS: Tony Marinaro and Jean-Charles Lajoie discussed the possibility of the Montreal Canadiens pursuing Alex Killorn via this summer’s free-agent market. The 33-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning winger is finishing a seven-year, $31.5 million contract ($4.45 million average annual value).
Lajoie believes Killorn (a Quebec native) would be the type of physical winger who would appeal to Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes and head coach Martin St. Louis. While the Lightning winger is coming off a career-best season, Marinaro cautioned that he’s on the downside of his career.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Marc Dumont was asked which UFAs he sees the Canadiens pursuing. He thinks they might sign a right-shot defenseman who can be a mainstay on the top pairing alongside Mike Matheson while their younger blueliners develop. Dumont suggested New Jersey Devils rearguard Damon Severson, though he’s heard that he’d prefer to avoid playing in a market like Montreal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn would be ideal if he were five years younger as he could fit in well in the Canadiens’ long-term plans. However, he turns 34 in September and would probably prefer skating with a playoff contender rather than a rebuilding club. I daresay Severson would feel the same way.
LABANC FACING UNCERTAIN FUTURE IN SAN JOSE
THE MERCURY NEWS’ Curtis Pashelka tweeted Monday that Sharks winger Kevin Labanc faces an uncertain future in San Jose. General manager Mike Grier said he “can’t say whether he’ll be here,” adding he’ll see what happens and what presents itself.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Labanc, 27, has a year remaining on his contract with an AAV of $4.725 million. He also lacks no-trade protection. He’s struggled since tallying a career-best 56 points in 2018-19. With the Sharks rebuilding, it sounds like Grier could dangle Labanc as a trade chip this summer.